In this week’s blog I will be continuing with my streets and roads theme and will be writing about Corporation Street, another of Manchester’s major streets.

Corporation Street represents the change Manchester has made historically, from a small market town to a large industrial city. To discover the reason why Corporation Street got its name, I will discuss some aspects of Manchester’s history. In the year 1835, the Municipal Corporations Act was passed. This act was intended to abolish what was known as ‘Rotten Boroughs’. The Reform Act of 1832 had started the process of removing Boroughs where local government did not represent the new role of the towns involved. Unincorporated towns could petition for incorporation and Birmingham and Manchester were among the first to do so. There was a lengthy battle between those who were for and against Manchester possessing a charter of Incorporation. Those for Manchester’s incorporation numbered 7,984 vs. 8,694  in opposition. Manchester was duly granted its new status on August the 15th 1838. The benefits of Manchester becoming incorporated included election of Councillors for different wards by rate payers, liability protection and above all credibility. Manchester gained its city status in 1852. For the first time in over two millennia, Manchester had gained the status it continues to enjoy today.

Below, we see an image of the street, note the tram tracks and shops. (1900)
Corporation Street

Perhaps the photographer chose a quiet time of day to take this photo, but onto the origin of Corporation Street. As a result of Manchester becoming Incorporated, the Manchester Corporation purchased the manorial rights of the town from the Lords of the Manor, the Mosley family in 1846. This family gave their name to Mosley Street. At this time,  Manchester Corporation resolved to improve road communications between the Market Place (in the heart of Manchester City Centre) and Ducie Bridge (which goes over the River Irk). This involved the clearance of the dreadful maze of alleys and slums that lay between. The result of Manchester Corporation’s aim was the creation of Corporation Street at a cost of £88,100 and as explained above, it was named in celebration of the newly formed structure of Manchester’s local government. The street was completed in 1848.

This is a recent image of Corporation Street, 2013
Corporation Street

Since the IRA bombing in 1996, Corporation Street has undergone large scale reconstruction and houses The National Football Museum (formerly URBIS), various travel links and great entertainment hubs. Corporation Street also has a pedestrianised area, so the street has become a friendly and easy to access area for the public.

Below, an image shows views of Manchester looking up Corporation Street. (1961)
Corporation Street 2

In summary, we can therefore see the great history that lies behind the identity of Corporation Street. Please keep an eye out for my next blog, on the streets and roads of Manchester.

This blog post was written for Archives+ by one of our volunteers as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project.